August 2, 2009

It Takes Two Four To Mosh!

Note: Interview written/conducted roughly or exactly 2 years ago from my failed online mutation(read: webzine) called during their second anniversary. So incase you wanna exercise some math, add that up...these guys are already four years old. Incidentally, this month is also their anniversary. (Woah, I haven't thought of that, Einstein!) So, as our way of paying tribute to one of the most hardworking production this side of southside, we're bringing this interview back to you rabid music fans. Also, I'm gravedigging online the interviews, reviews, articles and whathaveyous that have been written by yours truly from yore and yonder incase i am planning to work for a magazine. so take that bite magazine! No, really, take this...

It Takes Two To Mosh

by Hari Skwatir • October 24th, 2007

Face it, people. Not everyone, being a spectator, has that first hand knowledge of what really happens behind – the after and before of a production. Everyone reaps the good reward and partying of a mind-blowing gig, sure. But not everyone is acquainted with the dreaded ordeal of finding venues, of wooing bar managers, of keeping up with drunken patrons and even of being amicable without being impolite to gatecrashers disguised as “friends”. Or in other words, organizing a gig means, pardon my french, getting their hands dipped in a public urinal. It means getting down and dirty. That’s why they call it a “no walk in the park”. Unless of course, after strolling you suddenly feel the urge to dip your hands in piss. But that’s another story.

Hypothetical potty humors aside, as our little way of paying back to the bunch of people who made their hands “dirty” for the sake of the kids on the scene, we’re bringing you a lowdown feature Q & A on one of the most hardworking outfit on the Cebu music scene – HarakiriMosh Productions. At the same time, this is also our idea of saying “hands down, you’re the man!” to this bunch of people who snobbed “The Man” and decided to do it their way. Besides, around this season marks the second anniversary of this production, so why the hell not?

Truth be told, this email interview was done roughly two months ago and originally intended for the “other site“. However, a series of inexplicable adversities had driven us to postpone the posting of this text. After much thoughts, lest the scriptures would not see the light of day, we’ve finally decided to bring it back and lay it here.

Represented by the two ladies(or “the twins” as they associate themselves) mainly responsible for the production(and at the same time a godmother to my tot), know more about their incidental conception, their favorite gigs, their thoughts on the male-dominated scene and anything else.

Eksena: How are you guys? How’s the first half of the year been treatin’ you?

MIRZA: Well were still up and kickin hahah, though the start of the year was tough for me since I had to move here in Manila but everything’s a okay with the production..and yes alot has changed that’s true but change is constant so I know this all happens for a reason padayonon gihapon ta ni!

Shak: I have to say a lot has happened to HarakiriMosh other than gigs. Mirza left for Manila, handuraw closed down (in a tragic sort of way), everything felt pretty much abrupt even though i knew, beforehand, that it was going to happen. There’s a time when all we do was sit silently together figuring out ‘what else?’ and ‘what now?’ and wondering if we are going to live through it. But i guess we’re put here to put up with it.

For us uninformed, could you please tell us a short background about Harakiri Mosh?

Shak: HarakiriMosh was never planned. That’s all we ever tell people. ‘Harakiri’ was meant to be a clothing line name (by cheryl and i) and ‘mosh’ was an earlier production (by mirza’s brother). One night, we went out with some friends in earlier bands that used to play for mosh and so we tried putting up a gig at handuraw.

MIRZA: hehehe shak said it already.. we never planned this in the first place. twas out of boredom when we saw old flyers and posters from our well kept treasure box(hahaha) and so we wanted to relive it all again for just one night.. but it turned out to be a lot more than what we have expected

How long have you been doing this?

MIRZA: Gahd. like, were turning 2 this september heheh but I’ve been helping my brother manage the MOSH Production back in the day that was 2001 so I guess I’ve been around

How long have you been doing this and how’s the scene now compared to when you first started?

SHAK: Roughly 2 years. Nothing dramatic. Though now, the audience and even the bands got a lot younger. I see 13, 14, 15 year-olds at shows . Plus they appreciate original material by the local bands now. And yeah, kids’ musical tastes went up a notch.

MIRZA: Wow it’s different. Well there’s More young talented bands, all with different styles and of course with their original stuff. More supporters which really is a big help for the band and the scene

Aside from organizing gigs, what other activities/undertaking do you guys partake?

MIRZA: I’m still a call girl at heart hahaha so I’m still working my ass off to earn money for myself and for my familia

SHAK: I’m in vocational school and i play music too.

Your favorite Harakiri gig.

Shak: Oh gosh… If I have to pick one. I guess it would have to be twinkle dudu’s “no place feels like home” album launch. The first mosh pit in handuraw. There’s gotta be a first. Haha.

MIRZA: Huwat?!?! SHud I need to mention it again coz shak did already hahah, it twas no doubt one of the best ones we had, another fave of mine was the far from Silent 1&2 coz twas also our first time at Club Vudu and after that Jaja Chiongbian one of the owners of the said club gave us an opportunity to be a part of their thursday night underground since then

Your favorite non- Harakiri gig.

Shak: A real sweaty S.R.A. Gig.

MIRZA: I should say w/ no bias whatsoever, SRA gigs indeed.. gotta work out all that fat and do some moshin hahahahah lol

Who are your favorite newcomers(bands) on the scene?

MIRZA: ooohhh, there are a lot of them and I’m amused that each one of them has their own style and tase of music and of course identity

Shak: Hmmm. I admit i have not listened to all the newcomers but a lot of who i’ve seen live are pretty skilled for their age. I see a bright future.

How does a band get on the bill or your playlist?

MIRZA: you need to dance the pole for us and please us.. NOT! hahaha well actually if ur fit to play then ur good to go.. no descriminations.. newbies are always welcome, u don’t have to be a “rockstarr” to play for us.. we don’t have standards really, slong as u do ur thing. We support mostly indie bands..indie is love remember? u just have to show us ur passion for the music and we’re down with that hehehe

What is your biggest challenge in organizing gigs?

MIRZA: Oh damn, the venues that’s numero uno, coz from time to time venues do close down or change management etc. but nevertheless were still blessed coz we never had that kind of problems .. most of them are happy to have us

Shak: For me, venues. I can say we have been blessed coz they keep landing on our laps. But the fear of running out of places to play in is always there. Not many people know that harakirimosh is mostly a d.i.y. Production. We have no sponsors other than our own piggy banks and the venues’ ‘break even’ way of handling ticket sales. D.i.y. Usually means zero moolah. Zero moolah=struggle.

Do you consider the “male dominated” scene a problem or a challenge?

Shak: What about the “male dominated” world? Haha. Being female all our lives, we’re pretty much used to it. In the scene though, there’s this stigma of being a groupie or being in it just to hook up with guys in bands (which, unfortunately for some, is true). It’s unusual to see girls put up rock shows and such just to support local talents. It’s even unheard of, in other places, but we did it here and it’s because of music and not of any underlying motive or whatnot.

MIRZA: HAH! I never got to think about that.. not evarr!!! hahaha, is there a need for me to worry? The male species in the scene look after me and my partner shak alot, and I thank each and everyone of them for respecting us so much. We don’t have much of a problem with them since were also one of the boys hahaha right twin? But then maybe we’re a challenge for some of them out there.. they can’t seem to handle ladies like us hahaha :p or maybe coz they’re too gay? Maybe? hahah

For those about to rock and then start their own production, what 3 main advises you can share to them?

MIRZA: Just be REAL.. learn how to respect others and you’ll have it back

Know your role. Putting up a production is not all roses. It takes a lot of dedication and sacrifice too.

Be responsible and level-headed. Always think about the actions you are going to take and the words you are going to say. Respect=give it and gain it.

Have fun. Bands will be late, you will run short of money, people will be a-holes, venue owners/managers will be bigger a-holes, your parents will hate you (yea, it happens a lot) but at the end of the day, a positive attitude will get you through all of that bad vibe.

In the tradition of Boy Abunda, here is your imaginary stage and imaginary microphone - what can you say to yourself as an audience?

Shak: Hey kid. One day you’ll look back to all the shows you’ve danced in, all the booze your body has consumed, all the rules you’ve broken, all the friends you’ve made, the haters you’ve proved wrong. All these will be just a memory. But the music lives and the music will make you remember.

MIRZA: OMG! Can i have your autograph?!?! hahahahaa j/k on the realz, what can i say to myself as an audience?

“waaaaaaaaaahhh indie is love!!!!”

Top 5 foreign acts you wish to feature/showcase in your production?

Shak: Oh gosh. David blaine to teach borat some magic tricks haha. And yeah who else, i wanna see sigur ros and radiohead and air together live.. That’d kill.

MIRZA: I hearts MAE!!! that’s all I can say hahaha

Lastly, what is the best part of being an organizer, aside from getting in your own gig for free?

Shak: Everytime we let a new band play. Some are very new and young and they turn out to be very good songwriters and musicians that they blow my brains out. Knowing that we gave them a chance, a stage to rock in and an audience to awe, it’s very fulfilling. It’s like every hard work you’ve ever done is paid off.

MIRZA: Gaining new friends and sharing the love of MUSIC

Happy 2nd Anniversary and congrats to the crew behind HarakiriMosh. May you have many more gigs to organize and more bands to showcase. Cheers!

June 12, 2009

Keeping Rock n' Roll Unsafe...Again! 06/27

Keeping Rock n Roll Unsafe...Again!
because we're lazy/busy bunch of motherfuckers who cant come up with any decent posts, this will do for now.

May 24, 2009

Rescue a Hero - This is not an album

There are the guys who would do anything to make sure they get some cash for their albums (see “Metallica vs. Napster”). And then there are the guys who give away their albums for free. I don't really mind paying for albums – everyone's gotta make a living. Then again, I have to appreciate the gallant effort to disprove the social theory that “there's no such thing as a free lunch”. And when the opportunity knocks to get something in exchange for nothing, why the hell not?

People questioned Rivermaya's motives when they did it back in 2000, so much that some pundits thought they'd lost their heads. Nine Inch Nails did it to get back at their record label (so it wasn't entirely an act of honor). Then Radiohead did it (not a big deal since they're definitely already rolling in the G's at this point), and they got some pretty tough backlash from that idiot Gene Simmons, who really shouldn't be complaining about not making money out of albums since his band's likely to burn it all up literally in a barrage of useless pyrotechnics and smashed guitars anyway. And, seriously, who cares if KISS comes out with a new album or not? They can put out ten more albums and people will still be singing along exclusively to “I wanna rock and roll all night” at their shows. Well, anyway, the point of this tirade is, you try to do something admirable and some lovable individuals are gonna burn you for it. But at least, the effort doesn't go unappreciated.

Take for example this young band from Cebu City called “Rescue a Hero”. They're not as big as Faspitch or the Ambassadors, but they're well on their way considering the number of gig fliers with their name on it. Did it all start with their decision to give away their album for free? We're gonna have to do a survey to verify that, but it doesn't take a genius to figure out that the free album thing was a factor.

The giveaway collection is called “This Is Not An Album” and contains songs with instrumentation reminiscent of the prepubescent music we used to get off on back when we were in high school (grade school for the rest of us). You remember those hardcore Lifehouse-type mellow-heavy-mellow combinations, don't you? As a bonus, given the circumstances of today's scene, it's not surprising to hear it twisted just slightly to include an emo-ish vocal styling. In other words, they're pretty much a Cebuano “Secondhand Serenade”.

I'm not a fan of the band when they're live, but this album is pretty good as far as recording quality is concerned – no irritating buzzes, no overpowering tracks, and crystal clear vocals. As a matter of fact, I never expected the vocals to be this pitch-perfect based on the live performances. Aside from that though, there's really nothing particularly outstanding about this album, it's just a solid collection of safe tunes that may appeal to a certain cult following but might take a while before it breaks through to the elitist scene.

Oh, have I mentioned this album is absolutely free? Lest we forget though, “free” and “priceless” are on opposite extremes, though we can't rule out the possibility of the two words meeting somewhere in the middle. If tearjerking mellow-rock is your kind of thing, this one's for you.

Download the "collection" here. Now.

Note: Their song "To My Dearest" is also featured on the 2nd transmissions.

* photos from their official site. but im sure they dont mind us stealing it. ;)

...and now from our vaults (part 1)

Ismut’s Doble Kara
by Hari Skwatir • March 23rd, 2007
(from archives)

Unbeknownst to almost everybody on the scene, our jazz/blues/metal/whatever musical heroes Smooth Friction just released not one, but, a couple unheard albums for this year. Infact, the two albums are so obscure that no radio airplays, no release party, and no PR shit is heard of from the public. The only way you can hear the songs on the new album is by going to their gigs, which to further dissapoint you, not that many these days.

The first release to be (not so) publicly available is something called “Panyero“. It is somewhat a hodgepodge of jazz, blues, stoner rock and whatnots. Some of the songs here are also found on that Popsicle EP they gave away for free(i lost my copy dammit!) last year. Or was it two years ago? Panyero also includes classic live tracks from their previous two albums, 2nd Coming(2003) and Oh Yeah(2001).

The second offering, entitled “Kinasing-kasing Nga Halad“(which gives the title an insane twist. Think: Frank Zappa’s Weasels Rip My Flesh), is more of an Inidoro(Mikmik’s other personal project) rather than a Smooth Friction(or Ismut Priksyon as it was cleverly spelled on the album cover) release. Most of the songs in here are a wee bit off-ish the hook-ish and may sound a bit “unconventional” to the pre-2nd ComingSmooth listeners. Old, albeit heavy, songs such as Kolkog and 3X a Half Day, are also thrown in the album to exhaust the overall album theme. Although I have to say, songs like Sayaw Sa Mga Mahuyang Nga Tikbalang and Ang Paglupad Sa Manananggal could psyche out or amuse(or both at the same time) their average solid-ug-lawas listeners. (Speaking of which, sorry to disappoint all of you Ismut fans but you won’t be hearing a Solid ug Lawas part II on this album.)

Certainly, these guys deserve an airplay than any other local acts in the scene combined.

Which brings us all to these nagging questions. With the two latest unheard and highly under-promoted albums that they’re currently trying to pull off(or put on), a) are these guys trying to prove something? Or it could be the opposite. (These guys have nothing else to prove, i guess) We also knew that most members are quite busy nowadays(business, job posts, etc) and it goes without saying that most of them are on a lie-low mode, but b) are they trying to make a statement by not making any? c) Is no show now becoming a show? d) is a doble kara(starting with their moniker) band their newfound image?? e) why do they have so many myspace accounts?? f) when will they cease to amaze true-blue fans?

And just like Dylan, we actually thought that these answers are up up in the air.

(Click album image above to stream their new songs.)

Related Links:
Smooth Friction @ Soundclick
Smooth Friction @ MySpace

...and now from our vaults (part 2)

MP3s: Smooth Friction - The Underrated Hits
by Hari Skwatir • November 16th, 2007
(from archives)

Analize Oh Yeah! 2nd Coming Panyero Kinasingkasing Na Halad

Exploring Smooth Friction’s musical catalogue, in chronological order, is like a psychiatrist watching the transformation of a garden variety recidivist into a howling psycho killer - one can’t help but get amazed at how brilliant the metamorphosis is taking in action. Every genre-bending record they put out is a testament to their peerless craftsmanship unhinged of any musical pigeonholing. Be it their playful brand of orgasmic jazz-rock-blues fusion(2001’s Oh Yeah! and 2003’s 2nd Coming) to the death metal concept album(2007’s Kinasing-kasing nga Halad) delivered in a subtle deadpan manner, Smooth Friction, the supercombo quartet that every Cebu scenester highly reveres, is definitely on an artistic league of their own.

But prior to brushing with local radio fame and honing their musical instruments, the ubergroup dabbled into too many musical endeavors, mostly Mik-mik’s one-man side projects. Among these projects, sadly, only a couple resurfaced with materials. One is with the neo-classical proggy trips of Tsk! Tsk! Tsk! and the other with the visually-lewd pseudo-death metal antics of Inidoro.

However, among the group’s works I totally admire is their otherworldly electronica-inspired release entitled”Analize” which is even outstanding by it’s production merits alone. Recorded simultaneously with their first full length(Oh Yeah!), Mikmik assembled Smooth Friction and invited some friends(Budoy’s Jr. Kilat, Ribcage, etc.) to participate on an orgasmic E-popping rave album.So ladies and the gentlemen, after that long boring rant, may I present to you the underrated hits(or the misses) of Smooth Friction:

  • Inidoro - Kolkog (also appear’s on 2007’s Kinasingkasing Na Halad) [download]

  • Smooth Friction - I Want You (2001’s Analize) [download]

  • Tsk! Tsk! Tsk! - Banger Dome Lullabye (self-titled) [download]

  • Smooth Friction - Take Me For A Ride (2001’s Oh Yeah!) [download]

  • Smooth Friction - Summertime (2003’s 2nd Coming) [download]

  • Smooth Friction - Panyero (2007’s Panyero) [download]

  • Smooth Friction - Ang Paglupad sa Manananggal (2007’s Kinasingkasing Na Halad) [download]

Also checkout Smooth Friction’s Soundclick site.

May 23, 2009

Mungkanghan -S/T (review)

Mungkanghan's album starts off on a promising note – a funky instrumental bassline topped off with woodwind and tribal percussions, a fresh, eclectic blend of everything hip and, at the same time, down-to-earth. But as the album progressed, the music began sounding repetitive and rehashed. Eventually, I came to the realization that what this band has created is praiseworthy ethnic music but, like nearly all ethnic albums I've heard in recent times, simply doesn't bring anything new to a game where everything's pretty much already old and worn out.

What really did this album in is the offkey vocals. I've never seen these guys live, unfortunately, and as far as I know, studio recording can make even the tiniest mistake as audible as, let's say, an ugly car crash. But, as much as I hate to be this frank, the vocals made the album, which was already sounding a little off-sync to begin with, almost unbearable to listen to.

This is a relatively young band and I'm sure there's a lot of improvement in their future. For one thing, I've heard even the most tonedeaf singers eventually progress into being able to hold a note perfectly. But for the meantime, this album just doesn't cut it for me. Being ethnic music isn't an excuse for breaking the basic nuances of good music.

Mungkanghan on Myspace

Bombo Pluto Ova - S/T(review)

When I first saw Bombo Pluto Ova perform at last year’s Fete dela Musique, I was quick to dismiss them as another punk band trying to be artsy by doing something that (apparently) no one else has done before. But, let’s face it, noise rock is nothing new. Bands that sound inept, whether intentionally or otherwise, are a dime a dozen - from the Dead Kennedys to the newer experimental bands like the SABAW collective. More importantly, noise rock is one of those things that anyone can do but very few can do right – and, at the time, Bombo wasn’t one of them.

Maybe it was the crappy sound system or maybe I was just too inebriated back then to appreciate the set – but I have to admit, this album really changed my mind about the band. It sounds so much better on record. The four tracks (or “chapters” as the band prefers to call them) each has its own distinct ambience and no vocals at all to mess up the mood. After a few listens, I finally formed an opinion – this record is good enough. So to all you noise-loving bloodsuckers out there, make this the album to own in 2009!

-> bombo pluto ova on myspace

(first printed on a commercial rug called bite magazine)